This Week: Facebook turns 20 🤮, Disney desperately seeks a business model 🙈, YouTube’s scary priorities 👻 and my next meetup in San Diego THIS SUNDAY at Margaritaville 5:30pm (RSVP here for details) 🍷🍸🍹🍺!
YouTube’s 2024 Priorities: CEO Neal Mohan shared his vision for Big Red in 2024, and it’s all about more AI, more exclusivity and more safety. Just as YouTube democratized access to audiences – and revenue – he sees AI as the next big way to help everyone create. Mohan promises to build “appropriate protections” and ensure it is in the “service of creativity”. Mohan also highlighted YouTube’s efforts to help creators get paid and get recognized by governments, perhaps to blunt recent collective action from emerging orgs like Creators Guild and Creators.org. Mohan also leaned into subscriptions, which worryingly distorts the democratization of media with a posh layer of exclusivity. Passive TV viewing also takes center stage, as YouTube tries to be the everything video platform – presumably with more velvet ropes for its wealthier customers.
My Take: I applaud the focus on recognizing creators, kids safety and combating misinformation – areas where YouTube is doing better than its peers. But I worry about the coming bifurcation of the YouTube experience into haves and have-nots. I’d hate to see all the good stuff created by real people sequestered behind a paywall, while the plebes get fed cheap AI-generated crap.
- Related: Enjoy our American Super Bowl holiday – did you spot all the creators? Want to catch up on the ads? YouTube’s 18th annual AdBlitz gives you a place to rewatch them all. Who could have predicted back 2007 that Little Reddy would turn into a cornerstone of NFL TV dominance? Hopefully when YouTube inevitably “broadcasts” the Super Bowl, it’ll still be free for all.
- Related: Mike Shields on why Mr. Beast is the biggest show on TV.
Facebook turns 20: One score years ago, our Zuckfathers brought forth on this digital realm a new platform, conceived in connectivity, and dedicated to the proposition that sharing cat videos, arguing over politics and a relentless march of baby photos should be universally accessible. But today it’s unclear whether a social network of the people, by the algorithm and for the ad revenue, should not vanish from our screens. Facebook expert David Kirkpatrick’s take on The Facebook Tragedy is well worth reading, as is Vox’s take on “What We Learned”.
Last One Out Turn Off The Lights: The dying paroxysms of traditional television convulsed into a new “Winners Bundle” of sports-heavy channels. It’s a recognition that live – and particularly live sports — are the last best hope for traditional TV. Just like how the demise of ATT means more money for creator sponsorships, this last gasp for traditional TV will likely lead to more ad dollars flowing to the live and on-demand video content most people really want. Creators (and sports). It will take years for sports rights to unwind and then coalesce around new partners. But done right YouTube could be a big winner here, along with Netflix, TikTok and Amazon/Twitch.
- Related: Disney invests in Epic – it reminds me of when Disney bought Maker. Aligning those brands is going to be interesting – get ready for Buzz Lightyear Battle Royale! Cathy Hackl has an optimistic take.
- Related: The Metaverse is back! But let’s call it something else, mmkay.
Media Value and Creator Power: You need to read Doug Shapiro’s four-part look at how media value is created and flows today and tomorrow. I highlighted part 1 and part 2 last week. Part 3 and part 4 are out. Shapiro lays out the state of our new gatekeepers, and how “The greatest hope for creators lies in better monetization tools and business models, not more equal popularity distributions.” He also explores three possible ways creators MIGHT avoid the winner-takes-all environment of today including through regulation (eg Section 230), web3 and AI. Part 4 brings it home, exploring how immersion, active fandom and finding new time have the potential to drive more rapid change. Better living through technology – IF you lean into the right ones.
VTuber Turmoil: VTuber agency Nijisanji EN accused of toxic behavior and bullying after it terminated top creator Selen Tatsuki. This feels a lot like some of the early MCNs who preyed on immature talent. Hope these VTubers can forge their own path and own their avatars – and the toxic Nijisanji (and parent company ANYCOLOR) either changes or fades away. Perhaps the Japanese government needs to get involved?
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- Live vertical streaming comes to YouTube.
- Wacky experiment – YouTube creating feeds based on colors.
- Hey Thumbnail Geeks: AI expert Dylan Curious lays out a novel way to leverage YouTube’s internal AI to help you pick the best thumbnail. Promising concept, but needs more testing. Bonus: see Dylan speak at Creator Lab – the creator economy conference I’m building inside The NAB Show. I’ve got a few free passes to hand out – hit me up in the comments or come to Sunday’s meetup!
- Meta announces new partnerships and tools to auto-detect AI-generated content, along with its user disclosure rules.
- Meta and TikTok push back on Europe’s Digital Services Act enforcement tax.
- Instagram and Threads de-emphasize political content in their feeds.
- Wow. Temu shoved a lot of money down Meta’s piehole last year. And at the Super Bowl last night too.
- TikTok had a virtual festival celebrating live streamers. It went on for 3 months. I asked TikTok for data on time spent and diamonds earned but didn’t hear back before publishing.
- Coca-Cola launches TikTok Shop exclusive soft drink called “Happy Tears”.
- TikTok under fire for search suggestions that spark controversies and spread misinformation.
- TikTok destroying itself from the inside out, argues Gizmodo.
- TikTokers adapt to the post-UMG era (🦆 fluffing! – this is reason #276 of why I love the creator economy)
- Douyin CEO resigns to take new job at Bytedance. Problems in short-form?
OTHER CREATOR ECONOMY
- The Grateful Dead unseats Frank Sinatra and Elvis as the king of top-40 albums. I lay out what it means for creators (and expose my inner deadhead) 💀.
- Snap lays off 10% in another discouraging employment report from social media platforms.
- TikTok is Twitter, YouTube is Facebook, argues Ryan Broderick from Garbage Day (about halfway down).
- Snap also plans to merge Spotlight and Stories. But slowly and deliberately.
- The demise of X is leading to an emerging aggregation layer on top of social, news and video platforms. I’m a fan of this and can’t wait to try some of these out.
- ESPN rolls out its second Creator Network – but it’s unclear if the creators are giving it away for free, or if they’ll actually get paid this time around.
- Social platforms are limiting access to their API and cutting off data. This story focuses on Twitter and Reddit, but hearing rumors that TikTok is doing the same.
- OMG! You mean Older People make content too?
- Hey creators – let’s develop some fun new words and phrases!
- Great profile on the wizard behind India’s BB KI Vines – I was honored to meet him at last year’s Creator World!
- Also great to see Dan Howell (of Dan and Phil fame) creating a paid streamable version of his live “We’re All Doomed” show.
- Kick co-founder claims they turned down $1B for the platform. Probably an investment valuation, not a full-on offer – but you never know.
- Roblox launches real-time text-chat translation across 16 languages. I wonder how many eels live in their hovercraft?
- You probably use LinkedIn. If so, you might find this prompt design primer from LI’s head of AI interesting (HT Benedict Evans).
- Battle lines being drawn: Google launches Gemini Advanced, spikes Bard. Should we subscribe to Google One AI, Co-Pilot Pro or ChatGPT Plus?
- AugXLabs realeases Auggie Storyteller – a fun and enchanting step forward in AI storytelling. Try it out! Here’s my story – using my favorite test rubric “A Dog Chasing a Ball on the Moon”. (disclosure, I am on Auggies advisory board).
- LinkedIn Algorithm Savant Richard Van Der Blom just released a HUGE 2024 report on the algorithm. Lots of tips and insight inside.
- brendan Gahan – one of the smartest guys in social – just launched a comprehensive 2-month course for social media managers. It’s going to be super-valuable and well worth attending.
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I’ve built and sold multiple creator economy startups to top media companies – including Discovery and Paramount. Subscribe here on LinkedIn to get this newsletter every Monday.
Thanks for reading and see you around the internet.